So what are the issues here? Well, as Edward Lucas puts it ...
'Forget, for a moment, the headline stories from central and eastern Europe―the pipeline politics, the corruption scandals, the treasonous tycoons. The big story in the ex-communist world is people. Too few are being born. Too many are dying. And tens of millions have changed country.'
So this is in fact all about demographics and incidentally this is also where I am most dissapointed of the WB report; namely its lack of sensivity towards demographics in the region and generally its assumptions on future trends. In short, ... I have three overall remarks and points of criticism on the report.
- Firstly there is Russia and although the report is not wrong per se in its analysis and description on Russia I believe the perspective is biased. Consequently, Russia is outlined as almost an immigration magnet for immigrants in especially the CIS countries. However the report does not adequately emphazise, in my opinion, the general dire state of Russia's demographics. A notable point here is as is also briefly mentioned in the report that Russia's population is declining despite the influz of immigrants. Moreover, I also believe this aspect could have been illuminated by incorporating some form of fertility component in the measures and assesments of intra-regional immigration
- Secondly I am at odds with some of the reports assumptions on future trends for migration and comparisons. A notable example is how the region (Eastern Europe + CIS) in the future will be able to leverage immigration from Asia and Africa in order to offset ageing and population decline. This analysis is oddly based on the assumption that as the region no longer is to produce emigrants it will begin to demand immigration. This is of course true but it is not very likely in my opinion that this will be possible. Another similar point follows from the report's assumption that the East-West migration from Eastern Europe to EU at some point will reverse as the emigrants return to their home country. Can we really assume this?
- Thirdly and finally I am a bit dissapointed that the report albeit its very comprehensive description and account for remittances flows does not take into account the human capital component of these flows as they are associated with an outward flux of a relatively scare ressource from Eastern Europe, namely skilled labour. This has long term growth implications specifically tied to many countries' ability to push up the value chain and also more importantly this is intimately tied to the large degree of remittance flows.